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Mesothelioma Treatment, Side Effects and Support

At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, our team of mesothelioma experts approach treatment to not just treat the disease but to preserve your function and quality of life. We use the latest, most-effective and least-invasive treatments and surgical methods to ensure you have the best results possible.

How Is Mesothelioma Treated?

After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, your doctor will discuss your treatment options. What will work best for you depends on: 

  • Type of cancer
  • Stage of disease
  • Location of the tumor
  • Your age and general health

We tailor your treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Your doctor may suggest one or more of the following therapies to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms:

Surgery: Surgery for mesothelioma may reduce/remove the cancer or relieve symptoms of pain and shortness of breath. There are many surgical options that your surgeon will discuss with you and together choose the right treatment for you. In more extensive operations and with any surgery, serious complications may occur, including bleeding, blood clots, infection, changes in heart rhythm, pneumonia, fluid build-up and loss of lung function.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy alone doesn’t cure mesothelioma, but when combined with surgery, it may reduce the chance cancer will come back. In some cases, radiation may help relieve pain or discomfort. Depending upon the site for radiation therapy, various side effects may occur such as fatigue, skin problems, pain, hair loss, decreased appetite, difficulty breathing, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.

Chemotherapy: Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center offers advanced chemotherapy options for mesothelioma. Your doctor may use chemotherapy before or after surgery, or as your primary treatment. Side effects for chemotherapy usually go away after treatment and many symptoms can be managed with medications. Common side effects include: hair loss, mouth sores, pain, appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, infection, bruising and fatigue.

Targeted therapies: At Banner MD Anderson, we use targeted therapies, some of the latest, most innovative mesothelioma treatment options available. These agents focus on the cancer’s specific genetic profile to help your body fight the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, common side effects of these drugs include high blood pressure, tiredness, bleeding, infection, headaches, mouth sores, loss of appetite and diarrhea.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses drugs to stimulate a patient’s immune system to recognize and then destroy the cancer cells. The most common side effects include fatigue, diarrhea, rash and itching.

Palliative procedures: Mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to remove. Your doctor may be able to recommend therapies to control it or ease symptoms. Some types of treatments may include thoracentesis, paracentesis or pericardiocentesis to remove fluid from the chest; pleurodesis to prevent fluid buildup in the chest; shunt placement to drain fluid to another part of the body or catheter placement to drain fluid out of the body.

Clinical trials: Your doctor may also suggest a clinical trial (research study) using surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a targeted agent. Targeted agents are innovative drugs often tested in experimental treatments and can offer new hope for patients with mesothelioma. Talk to your doctor to see if you qualify for any clinical trials at Banner MD Anderson.

Mesothelioma Treatment Support

There are many things that patients deal with after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Our caring team of cancer experts is here to serve you. We offer personalized care for all aspects of your mesothelioma treatment. Our Integrative Oncology Program provides much needed supportive services to help you manage your cancer symptoms, treatment side effects and nonmedical needs.

Learn more about the services we offer, including mesothelioma support groups.

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